Oct. 22, 2012. (AP) GAZA CITY, GAZA STRIP – The emir of Qatar received a hero’s welcome during a landmark visit to Gaza on Tuesday, becoming the first head of state to visit the Palestinian territory since the Islamist militant Hamas seized control of the coastal strip five years ago. The landmark visit by Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani handed the ruling Hamas — branded terrorists by the West and isolated by an Israeli blockade — its biggest diplomatic victory since taking power. It was also a strong sign of the rising power of oil-rich Qatar, and the mounting influence of Hamas’ parent movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, since last year’s Arab Spring uprisings. While Gazans celebrated the emir’s arrival, the rival Palestinian government of Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank was less enthusiastic. Israel condemned the visit as undermining peace. Hamas wrested control of Gaza from Abbas’ Fatah forces in 2007, and West Bank officials fear the emir’s visit will give the Iranian-backed Hamas a lift in their feud and make the split between the two territories more permanent. In a speech at Gaza’s Islamic University, the emir urged the warring Palestinian factions to reconcile. ‘Why are you staying divided?’ he said. ‘There are no peace negotiations, and there is no clear strategy of resistance and liberation. Why shouldn’t brothers sit together and reconcile?’ While Abbas has welcomed Qatar’s plans to deliver hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to impoverished Gaza, he also stressed in a phone call with the Qatari leader this week that he is the internationally recognized leader of the Palestinians. Israel, which brandishes Hamas as terrorist for its suicide bombings and strikes on Israeli civilian targets, denounced the visit. ‘It is quite strange that the emir of Qatar should take sides with Hamas, that he will favor Hamas over Fatah that he would even decide to take sides in the Palestinian internal conflict,’ said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor. ‘This is more than strange, especially since Hamas is internationally recognized as a terror group … by hugging Hamas publicly, the emir of Qatar has thrown peace under the bus.’ In Gaza, white and maroon Qatari flags flapped in the streets and a song called ‘Thank you, Qatar’ played on the radio and on TV. In the border area, Hamas set up a large, carpeted greeting tent, reminiscent of a luxurious desert camp and staged an honor guard ceremony after the emir crossed into the territory from Egypt. Thousands of cheering and waving Palestinians lined the main road to Gaza City to greet the emir, who rolled down the window of his armored car to shake hands with dozens of people. Women on balconies threw flowers and rice on his convoy.
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A post from last week reported on the announcement of the biggest contribution of reconstruction aid for Hamas-ruled Gaza since the destruction accompanying the Israeli-Gaza conflict four years ago.
The Voice of America recently posted an article that discusses the role of the Muslim Brotherhood in driving Qatari foreign policy.
A post from August reported on the plans for an Egypt-Qatar summit where the Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was to receive the Emir of Qatar. AP had reported earlier that Qatar was granting Egypt a $2 billion loan to help the country’s troubled economy. A post from March reported that the Deputy Chairman of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood was visiting Qatar for meetings with Qatari official. An earlier post discussed the relocation of Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal from Syria to Qatar in yet another sign of the country growing importance as a center of the Global Muslim Brotherhood. A series of recent and important Global Muslim Brotherhood events have been held in Qatar illustrating the increasing importance of the country to the Global Brotherhood.
A Gulf newspaper recently posted an article by academic Dr. Ahmad Jamil Azem titled “Qatar’s Ties with the Muslim Brotherhood Affect Entire Region.”
The Atlantic Council Web site recently posted an article titled “Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood: Between a Present with Qatar and a Future with Libya” that discusses the future of Qatari-Egyptian relations in light of the failure of the Libyan Muslim Brotherhood to prevail in recent elections.